Aug 162007

A Culture of Appreciation

A Culture of Appreciation

As I mentioned in my last post in the Collaboration is Hard series, we’ve tried to create a culture of appreciation at Return Path that lowers barriers to collaboration and rewards mutual successes.  We developed a system that’s modeled somewhat after a couple of those short Ken Blanchard books, Whale Done and Gung Ho! It may seem a little hokey, and it doesn’t work 100% of the time, but in general, it’s a great way to make it easy for people to say a public “thanks” to a colleague for a job well done.

The idea is simple.  We have an “award request” form on our company Intranet that any employee can use to request one of five awards for one or more of their colleagues, and the list evolves over time.  The awards are:

ABCD – for going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

Double E – for “everyday excellence”

Crowbar – for helping someone in sales “pry our way in” to a new customer

Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That – for coming up with a great insight for the business (credit for the name of course goes to our former colleague Andy Sernovitz)

WOOT – for Working Out Of Title and helping a colleague

Our HR coordinator Lisa does a quick review of award submissions to make sure they are true to their definitions and make sure that people aren’t abusing the system, and the awards are announced and posted on the home page of the Intranet every week and via RSS feed in near-real time.

Each award carries a token monetary value of $25-$200 paid with American Express gift checks, which are basically like cash.  We send out the checks with mini-statements to employees every quarter.

It’s not a perfect system.  The biggest shortcoming is that it’s not used evenly by different people or different groups.  But it’s the best thing we’ve come up with so far to allow everyone in the company to give a colleague a virtual pat on the back, which encourages great teamwork!

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